The Offbeat Officials of Oz

The Oz books have a lot of small royal courts with unusually-titled officials. This is something we see much more often in Ruth Plumly Thompson, but L. Frank Baum did have a few examples. In John Dough and the Cherub, Chick becomes John Dough’s Head Booleywag, which he considers “the one who rules the ruler.” The ruler of Thi refers to himself as the High Coco-Lorum, and King Rinkitink plans to make the writer of How to Be Good a Hippolorum. Also, the Pink Country of Sky Island has a Royal Scribbler instead of a scribe.

Here are the ones I could think of who show up in the Thompson books, most of them being Prime or Chief somethings:

  • The Grand Chew Chew and Chief Chow Chow of the Silver Island
  • The Chief Poker of Pokes
  • The Prime Pumper and Chief Dipper of Pumperdink
  • The Prime Preserve of the Preservatory, who is green in color, due to being pickled and living in a jar
  • The Lord High Humpus of Perhaps City presides over weddings. Supposyville also has an official with that rather unfortunate title, who’s in charge of sports, as per “Supposyville Goes Toboganning.”
  • Kimbaloo has both a Town Laugher and Crier. The former, whose name is Hah Hoh, helps out at court because there’s so much laughing to do, and the latter cries in place of the other court members.
  • The Prime Piecer and Chief Scrapper of Patch are in charge of affairs at the castle, and boss around the ruler, or at least they did before Ozma modified the laws. They’re also in charge of cleaning up a ruler who goes to pieces and capturing a new one.
  • Toddledy is described in The Giant Horse of Oz as “scribe and Prime Moneyster” of King Cheeriobed’s court in the Sapphire City. I would suppose that jokey title is a combination of Prime Minister and Treasurer. But then, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is also First Lord of the Treasury, so maybe the title is just for fun. It does, however, further complicate the issue of whether Oz even uses money.
  • Tighty, the Out Keeper Of Shutter Town, a play on “innkeeper” as the Scarecrow acknowledges, is an official who tries to keep strangers out of the place, and gives warnings to the residents.

    The title is used again for Snorpus, the dimwitted giant guard of the hidden door into the Silver Mountain.
  • The Chief Scarer of Scare City, a man with eyes, noses, and mouths all around his head, serves as the gatekeeper of the place.
  • Baron Mogodore of Baffleburg employs a Chief Scorner named Smerker, who has a handle on his nose that he can turn upwards. He was also the keeper of a sauce box that would shout insults and threats, but he presumably no longer possesses this item, as Peter Brown took it from the castle and then lost it in Swing City.

  • Chinda, the Chief Prophet and Seer of Samandra, is promoted to Magician Extraordinary and Grand Bozzywoz of the Realm during the course of Yellow Knight. The job of a Bozzywoz apparently includes leading processions. The Sultan’s court also has a Grand Counter of the Imperial Spoons, whose name is Blufferroo.
  • Sevevanone is identified in Pirates as the Lord High This and That of the Octagon Isle. Considering how often Thompson referenced Gilbert and Sullivan (there’s a country called Menankypoo in the same book), this is likely based on Poo-Bah being the Lord High Everything Else of Titipu in The Mikado. The character briefly appears again in Captain Salt, but his title isn’t mentioned.
  • The Red Jinn is assisted by Alibabble, the Grand Advizier. The title is a combination of “advisor” and “vizier,” the latter a government official in the Islamic world that dates back to the Abbasid Caliphate. I first came across the word in C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy, although I wasn’t sure how to pronounce it; I learned that from Disney’s Aladdin. The trope of the treacherous vizier has become common, but Alibabble is quite loyal, and valuable enough to Jinnicky that he’s allowed to criticize the Jinn in ways his other servants wouldn’t. A bit of a running gag with him is that he’s also advising Jinnicky to get a haircut.
  • The Prime Patter of Unicorners is a blue-bearded dwarf named Pat, who keeps a brush to, in his own words, “lay it on soft or hard, just as her Highness commands.” Corporal punishment by brushing sounds likes some sort of kink thing, but I guess it’s none of my business what unicorns are into.
  • One of the main officials to King Sizzeroo of Umbrella Island is Bamboula, the Royal Su-jester, an advice giver and entertainer. It took me a little while to figure out that it’s a play on “suggester,” even though it’s more or less spelled out in the text. Some of Thompson’s spelling choices were a bit odd; I probably would have gone with “Sug-jester.”
  • King Kerr of Keretaria was attended by the High Qui-questioner, Imperial Persuader, and Lord High Upper Dupper. As silly as the first and third titles are, the middle one is genuinely creepy. The Qui-questioner carries a question mark staff and interrogates strangers. Nox the Ox calls him Questo at one point, but it’s not clear whether that’s his name or a shortened version of his title. My guess would be both, since this is a land of strange coincidences. The Upper Dupper is likely the same as a jailor. It’s unknown whether these three remained in the castle after King Kerry took back the throne, but in my “The Goat Girls of Oz,” they followed Kerr to another kingdom.
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